Understanding the Requirements for an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864

What is an Affidavit of Support for immigration purposes?

An Affidavit of Support is a legal document used in the context of immigration to demonstrate that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) is willing and able to financially support an intending immigrant, ensuring that the immigrant does not become a public charge (reliant on government assistance). This affidavit is often required as part of various immigration processes to show that the immigrant has adequate financial support and will not place an undue burden on the U.S. government or taxpayers.

The Affidavit of Support is typically submitted by the sponsoring individual (the petitioner or sponsor) who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder and who is seeking to bring a family member to the United States. The affidavit is a legally binding contract in which the sponsor agrees to financially support the intending immigrant until certain conditions are met:

  • The intending immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen.
  • The intending immigrant has worked for 40 qualifying quarters under the Social Security Act.
  • The intending immigrant’s permanent resident status is terminated.

The Affidavit of Support is used for various immigration processes, including family-based immigration (such as sponsoring a spouse, parent, or child), diversity visa lottery winners, and certain employment-based immigrants.

Key points about the Affidavit of Support:

  • Form I-864: The most commonly used form for the Affidavit of Support is Form I-864, “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA.” This form requires the sponsor to provide financial information, including income, assets, and liabilities, to demonstrate their ability to financially support the intending immigrant.
  • Income Requirements: The sponsor’s income must meet or exceed a certain threshold, which is usually 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for the household size. If the sponsor’s income is insufficient, they can use assets to meet the requirement.
  • Joint Sponsors: In some cases, a joint sponsor may be necessary if the petitioner does not meet the income requirements. The joint sponsor is another individual who is willing to provide financial support and meets the income requirements.
  • Affidavit of Support for Immediate Relatives: For certain immediate relatives, such as spouses of U.S. citizens and parents of U.S. citizens, the sponsor’s financial responsibility is unlimited and continues even if the intending immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen.
  • Affidavit of Support for Other Immigrants: For other family-sponsored immigrants and employment-based immigrants, the sponsor’s responsibility continues until the intending immigrant either becomes a U.S. citizen, earns 40 qualifying quarters of work, or loses permanent resident status.
  • Legal Obligations: The sponsor’s obligations under the Affidavit of Support are legally binding. If the sponsored immigrant receives certain means-tested public benefits, the sponsor may be required to reimburse the government for those benefits.

It’s important to note that the requirements, forms, and processes related to the Affidavit of Support can vary based on the specific immigration category and the intending immigrant’s relationship to the sponsor. Always refer to the most up-to-date instructions and guidelines provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or consult with an immigration attorney to ensure accurate submission of the Affidavit of Support and related documents.

Who is required to submit Form I-864?

Form I-864, “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” is required to be submitted by sponsors in certain family-based and employment-based immigration cases to demonstrate that the intending immigrant will have the necessary financial support and will not become a public charge. Here are the key categories of individuals who are required to submit Form I-864:

  • Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens:
    • Spouses of U.S. citizens
    • Children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. citizens
    • Parents of U.S. citizens (if the petitioner is at least 21 years old)
  • Family-Sponsored Preference Categories:
    • Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
    • Unmarried children (21 or older) of U.S. citizens
  • Certain Employment-Based Immigrants:
    • EB-4 special immigrants (religious workers and others)
    • Certain employment-based immigrants seeking a visa under the EB-4 and EB-5 categories
  • Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Winners:
    • Diversity visa lottery winners selected to apply for immigrant visas under the Diversity Visa Program
  • Certain Self-Petitioners and Juvenile Immigrants:
    • Self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and certain juvenile immigrants

It’s important to note that not all immigrant categories require the submission of Form I-864. For example, some employment-based immigrant categories do not require the affidavit of support, and other forms may be required instead.

If you are unsure whether you are required to submit Form I-864 as part of your immigration application, it’s advisable to consult the specific instructions for your immigration category on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or seek guidance from an immigration attorney. The requirements can vary based on the type of immigrant visa you are applying for and your relationship to the petitioner or sponsor. Read more “list your business in the” “free and paid submission to the” “add your site” statistics

What to do if the sponsor doesn’t meet the minimum income requirements?

If the sponsor does not meet the minimum income requirements for Form I-864, “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” there are several options and alternatives that can be explored to satisfy the financial support requirement for the intending immigrant. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Use Household Income: If the sponsor’s income alone does not meet the income requirement, you can include the income of other household members, as long as they are listed as dependents on the sponsor’s federal tax return. This can include the sponsor’s spouse, children, and any other dependents who are part of the sponsor’s household.
  • Joint Sponsor: In cases where the sponsor’s household income is insufficient, a joint sponsor can submit their own Form I-864 to provide the additional financial support needed. A joint sponsor must meet the minimum income requirement on their own and be willing to assume financial responsibility for the intending immigrant.
  • Substitute Sponsor: If the original sponsor cannot meet the requirements and a joint sponsor is not available, certain family members can serve as substitute sponsors. These family members are typically the intending immigrant’s spouse, parent, adult son or daughter, adult brother or sister, or guardian.
  • Use Assets: If the sponsor’s income is still insufficient after considering household income and using a joint or substitute sponsor, they can use their own assets to meet the financial requirement. Assets must have a value that is at least five times the difference between the sponsor’s household income and the required income for the intended household size.
  • Combination of Income and Assets: Sponsors can combine their income with assets to meet the required amount. Assets used for this purpose must be owned by the sponsor and meet specific criteria outlined in the form instructions.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If you are facing challenges meeting the income requirements, it’s advisable to seek guidance from an experienced immigration attorney. An attorney can assess your specific situation, provide advice on the best approach, and help you navigate the process effectively.

It’s important to note that immigration processes and requirements can change, and the options available may vary based on the specific immigration category and circumstances. Always refer to the most up-to-date instructions provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or consult with an immigration attorney to explore the best course of action for your particular situation.

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